100 Years Ago Today: Virginia Rappe buried, September 19, 1921

In San Francisco, Roscoe Arbuckle had another woman to consider beside Virginia Rappe.

Minta Durfee woke to spend her first full day in the city as the comedian’s wife. For some people, who may have forgotten Arbuckle had a wife, Durfee must have seemed like a revenant.

Meanwhile, to the south, in Los Angeles, a brief service was conducted in the Strother & Dayton mortuary chapel. Some of Rappe’s film colony friends were observed among the celebrity mourners. Kathleen Clifford, termed “a dear friend of the dead girl,” came with Canadian actress Grace Darmond and her mother. Although Lloyd Hamilton couldn’t make it, his wife Ethel was present as was the future Mrs. Oliver Hardy, Myrtle Reeves, and her sister May, also a Vitagraph actress.

Many of Rappe’s friends had sent flowers, which required an open hearse to bring to the cemetery. Maude Delmont, sent a bouquet of Cecile Brunner roses with a note that read “To Virginia: You know I love you as though you were my sister.” Norman Taurog and Larry Semon provided a loving cup filled with roses and inscribed in Rappe’s memory. Aunt Kate and Uncle Joe Hardebeck contributed a pillow of rosebuds decorated with a ribbon that read, “Tootie,” her childhood nickname.

The most curious thing about the arrangement was the card, which read “from a friend,” an indication that the Hardebecks didn’t pay for it. Of all the flowers, however, nothing compared to Lehrman’s tiger lilies.

Rev. Frank Roudenbush, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church—known in Hollywood as “the little church around the corner” on Sunset Blvd.—performed the burial rites from the Book of Common Prayer. Virgie Lee Mattoon, the celebrated contralto soloist and wife of a Los Angeles district attorney, sang “Abide with Me” and “There Is No Night There,” accompanied by Jessie Pease on the funeral chapel’s organ.

Outside, a mostly female crowd estimated to be as large as 1,500 attempted to force their way inside in what was called a “riot.” The police came in squad cars and on horseback. They made a path so that the pallbearers could shoulder their burden to the hearse. On each side of the flower-decked coffin slowly walked Rappe’s retinue of pallbearers, dwarfed by how high they carried it on their shoulders. Among them were not only Taurog and Semon, but Oliver Hardy, Al Herman, Dave Kirkland, and Frank Coleman.

As they slid the silver casket inside a white hearse, a mob closed in, some shouting questions for directions, the name of the cemetery, and if Rappe’s casket would be opened there one last time. “Can we see her there?”

After the cortege traveled the few blocks east to Hollywood Cemetery, followed by a parade of cars and people on foot, the mourners and the curious and those who could say “I was there” made their way toward Lehrman’s plot near the edge of a pond. They trampled the grass, stepped on gravesites, and sat on monuments. Many pushed their way to the front. Rev. Roudenbush offered one last prayer “with orthodox comfort of Christianity”—regardless of Rappe’s true faith if, indeed, she had one.

“Whosoever believeth in Me shall have everlasting life,” from John 3, was heard and one more body was added that made its later name, Hollywood Forever, a little more insistent, believable.

Source: Los Angeles Record (Newspapers.com)

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